Function, context, and environment in the languages of ants and people

Project: Research project

Project Description

The project proposes linguistic–dynamic systems as an approach to the explanation of intelligent behavior. According to this approach, intelligent behavior is guided by compositional representations; such representations often extend outside the mind; and no general mechanism can explain all intelligent behavior at once. Instead, representations guide behavior through various mechanisms – inferential or not – that attain homeostasis between representation and reality, so as to further the intelligent agent’s goals. Two such mechanisms will be investigated. First, the project will apply formal semantics to the study of ant communication, which is a socially distributed form of collective representation that solves problems by co-opting the environment and using the environment as an annotated map of itself. Second, the project will investigate several puzzling human-language semantic phenomena, by partly assimilating the role played for us by context to that played for ants by the environment.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date5/15/175/15/18